Being hybrid in a digital age


I have shared various views and perspectives on how important it is to preserve the tangible relationship between our engagement with both digital and physical spaces and contexts. No one context is better than another and it all depends on what it is that we are trying to achieve in the learning process. How do we balance the different interactions towards a more seamless reflection of the learning process? Being exploratory and experiential is key to possibly enhancing this and foster a much deeper learning in the process.

Under the GameChangers programme (Coventry University), we are exploring different ways of addressing the need for a more hybrid approach to learning- the blended approach that offers a more seamless process; a less disconnected process.

At the recent ECGBL conference, we showcased two projects that are looking at ways of supporting a more live action and pervasive approach to learning built upon the importance of play in learning.

Paper 1: ImparApp: Designing And Piloting A Game-Based Approach For Language Learning

  • Authors: Koula Charitonos, Luca Morini, Sylvester Arnab, Tiziana Cervi Wilson, Billy Brick, Tyrone Bellamy-Wood, Gaetan Van Leeuwen
  • Abstract: The paper gives an overview of the development, deployment and evaluation of ImparApp, a location-based game to support teaching and learning of Italian Language. It draws on a project currently developed at Coventry University, which examines pervasive approaches to learning and exploits game-based techniques in contextualising language learning in a more active, innovative and engaging way.

Paper 2: EscapED: A Framework for Creating Live-Action, Interactive Games for Higher/Further Education Learning and Soft Skills Development.

  • Authors: Samantha Clarke, Sylvester Arnab, Luca Morini , Oliver Wood, Kate Green, Alex Masters
  • Abstract: There is a rapid growing interest and demand globally, for developing and participating in live, team-based, interactive gaming experiences otherwise known as Escape Rooms. Traditionally designed to provide entertainment, Escape Rooms require its players to solve puzzles, complete tasks and work together efficiently in order to complete an overall goal such as solving a mystery or escaping the room itself. The structure of Escape Rooms and their overall growing popularity, equally amongst players of all ages and genders, indicates that the premise of interactive, live-action gaming can be adapted to develop engaging scenarios for game-based learning. The authors therefore present; EscapED, as a work in progress, case study and paradigm for creating educational Escape Rooms and Interactive Gaming Experiences aimed at staff and students in further/higher education institutions. A focus is drawn to designing and developing on-site experiences, to provide engaging alternatives for learning and soft skills development amongst higher education staff and students. A review of a prototype scenario, developed to support Coventry University staff at a teaching and learning training event is given, alongside participant’s general feedback and reactions to the overall experience and perceived educational value of EscapED. The EscapED framework is then discussed and offered as a tool to help foster a best practice approach to developing future Interactive Game-Based Learning Experiences (IGBLE). To conclude, the authors examine future needs and requirements for refining scenario design, development and iterative live-player testing, to ensure the EscapED Programme meets all educational and player engagement standards.

You can read more about the design process for a live action approach here.

These are just some of the work that we are doing. Interested to find out more?- do not hesitate to contact us.

GameChangers in Manchester, Scotland, Berlin, NYC


GameChangers– the programme, the movement… has come a long way. You can see my previous reflections here, here and here. Our approach was recently presented at the ALT Playful Learning in Manchester (13-15 July), the right place to start as playful and gameful learning is key to the GameChangers model. Samantha and Luca enjoyed themselves at the event and I am truly truly jealous as I missed all the fun!!

From Manchester, the tour continues to NYC in August for the Revolutionary Learning 2016:

Workshop: Meta-experiential design in Gameplay

An interactive and competitive team-based session using non-digital approaches.

Everyone has the ability to make sense of disconnected cues. This session by the Disruptive Media Learning Lab, UK aims to explore this by utilizing a playful approach to learning. This gamified session will exploit the power of creativity, narratives and visual cues towards scaffolding our understanding and interpretation of  abstract or high-level concepts and themes. The session will employ cards, tokens and team competition to help us articulate our personal narratives around themes, such as Flipped Learning, Game-based Learning and Self-directed Learning.

The workshop will be based on one of the GameChangers’ toolkits – the What is your story? cards developed as part of the programme. The cards have since been used in various teaching and learning activities, such as the Coventry University’s Flying Faculty for the nursing course. Jon Andrews won an award for the PGCert (Student Satisfaction).

From NYC back to Scotland in October for the European Conference in Game-Based Learning 2016, where two articles have been accepted for publications and oral presentations. One of the papers focuses on the escapED initiative developed as part of GameChangers. Lead designer and author Samantha is also currently working on a year programme for the Ethical Hacking course at Coventry University based on this ARG model. Samantha has also presented this initiative at the recent JISC Connect More event in Cheltenham. 

Possibly the last programme for the year will be the two workshops at the Online Educa Berlin (OEB) 2016, where we will unpick the GameChangers programme and the associated outcomes, especially the escapED initiative. 

Workshop: “Be a Game Changer!” Making Learning Addictive Using Game Design Thinking and Practices

In this hands-on workshop, participants will be introduced to several Game Changers projects including the escape room-influenced EscapED, the card game What’s Your Story, the pedagogical toolkit Flipped In A Box – and of course the Game Changers Open Course (including Web TV). These case studies will be presented both for inspiration and also to demystify the development process. Participants will be guided on how to develop engaging game-based learning solutions that are focused on the message ‘technology enhanced, not technology led’. Embodying this message, the workshop will shed light on how to assess the learner’s needs and to adopt the right technology accordingly. The workshop will also discuss some of the most commonly used methods and tools for developing digital games that participants can look to apply in their own gameful developments.

Using a design sprint methodology, participants will develop core skills in collaborative and interactive games design and by the end of the workshop will have developed blueprints for their own gameful and/or playful learning experiences.

The Workshop will help participants in furthering their understanding of playful and gameful approaches to learning and, more in general, demystify the process of game design and development as something strictly hi-tech based (and therefore hardly accessible to many learners and teachers). This will in turn facilitate the development of participants’ game ideas, be they for serious games or for any other kind of playful implementation, and provide them with basic toolkits and frameworks for designing and implementing playful learning experiences, therefore promoting the emergence of a more playful, creative culture in their everyday contexts.

The new and refined GameChangers will be launched soon early 2017 (hurrah that now Helen Keegan is back to help push the next phase forward) based on lessons learnt and feedback from peers. Watch this space for the Remix Play summit that we are organising, which will feature the GameChangers relaunch and also include fabulous people in the playful and gameful learning community. Check out my previous post on Remixing Play.

I would also like to acknowledge the other GameChangers members: Alex, Kate, Olly and Lauren.